GUWAHATI: Rescue teams are pumping out water from a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya where at least five miners have remained trapped since May 30 following a dynamite blast and are feared dead.
The vertical coal pit has a depth of 500 ft and around 150 ft of it was inundated following the dynamite blast that caused flooding. The excessive water, coupled with heavy rains for the past few days, made the task of the rescuers difficult.
Official sources said about 40 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and Fire Service were engaged in the operation. They are using three pumps to drain out water.
The personnel are assessing the ground situation by going into the coal pit using an iron basket attached to a crane.
East Jaintia Hills District Magistrate, E Kharmalki said the rescuers did not find any signs of the miners. He suspected that they were possibly trapped in the smaller horizontal pits which are dug to extract coal.
Home Minister, Lahkmen Rymbui said the coal mine owner, Shining Langstang, was sent to judicial custody after he had surrendered before the police. He said the police have so far questioned five people and recorded their statements.
The mine’s “Sordar” (contractor of labourers), Nizamuddin Ali, had gone underground following the disaster and the police issued a lookout notice, district Superintendent of Police, Jagpal Singh Dhanoa said.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said appropriate action as per the law would be taken against all those involved in the incident.
He said the initial reports suggested that an effort was being made to start mining activities at the site. He assured that the government would do everything possible to save the lives of the five miners – four of them from Assam and one from Tripura.